I really can’t believe that another year has come and gone. I’ve now been with MMORPG.com for more than a calendar year, and I honestly have no idea where the time went. Somewhere in there I graduated with my Masters, got a new day job at the VA Hospital, traveled to PAX and E3 both, got married, went to Hawaii, and now find myself staring down 2011 with deer-in-head-lights eyes because life seems unrelenting in both pace and sheer awesomeness. That said, with Christmas now a bittersweet memory for the next twelve months, it’s time to take stock of the 2010 that was for MMORPGs. Here then is my list of Best and Worst in MMO gaming for the past year. As always I hope you’ll toss in your own list in the comments below.
On a side note, Jon did write most of last week’s List as mentioned in the preamble. Gotta give the Boss some credit where credit’s due.
WORST: The APB Crash and Burn
I wanted to love this game so badly. It had so much promise of days gone by pretending I was a cop and/or robber with my childhood friends. But the reality was that Realtime Worlds’ sophomore release wound up as little more than a gorgeous character creator with promising gameplay that needed a whole lot of work and had no business charging a subscription. Luckily, though the title was canned by EA and RTW went the way of Flagship, it’s being repurposed as a F2P title by K2 Networks. Time will tell if it can make a spirited comeback.
BEST: The Freemium Model
Notice I didn’t write “F2P”. I think there’s a stark difference between F2P titles and those which are now adopting a sort of hybrid “Freemium” model a la Turbine’s DDO and LotRO. I know what you might be thinking: “Oh great another article where Bill gives too much credit to failing subscription games.” But that’s just the thing, I think it bodes well for an ever-crowding industry that companies are starting to take notice that not every game needs a mandatory $15 subscription to get our attention. I’m anxious to see what 2011 brings in the form of alternate payment methods.
WORST: The Allods Debacle
I loved Allods when it was in beta. I think I even wrote a fairly glowing preview for it here on the site way back when. But then the whole Cash Shop screw up happened and they ruined their chances at being one of the first strictly F2P titles to garner a rather large following. I could be entirely wrong, and the game could be thriving these days, but I’ve not yet risked my wallet and time to find out. As I understand it, they at least changed the way players needed to shell out their life savings to raid and get appropriate bag space. I’ll have to take a look at it in 2011 to see how it’s faring.
BEST: Vindictus and Global Agenda
On the other side of the F2P world, two games really came out with guns blazing (figuratively and literally). Sure, GA was originally going to be a subscription game and true enough you still have to buy the title, but I believe it’s a quality title that deserves a mention among this year’s best new releases. Vindictus, while it may be a simplistic action dungeon crawler is still a helluva good simplistic action dungeon crawler. Both games get played on my machine now and again, and I never have to pay a subscription to do so (nor should I have to).
WORST: WoW Still Manhandling the Competition
I’m not picking on WoW. I get it. I’ve been a fan for years myself. But I’d really like to see the damn game start to fall from its pedestal in the wake of something new already. And no, I don’t want it to be Blizzard’s next game. Not only is WoW still #1, it even grew in population in its sixth year of operation. It makes me want to vomit… as soon as I’m done leveling my Goblin.
BEST: Aion and Age of Conan Get Good
This year was however a good year for games that underperformed their massive hype. Both Aion and Age of Conan saw expansions and patches which brought them much more in line with “AAA” status. If you’ve not played either title, or simply haven’t played in a long while, now may be a good time to give them a second look.
WORST: Nothing Really Happened
This was my low-light of 2010. Despite what I mentioned above, does it really seem like 2010 was a stellar year for MMORPGs? 2010 is the home of the quickest cancelled game yet. When one of my “Best of” items is the fact that two games finally became worth the money, you know something’s off. Which brings me to my final list item…
BEST: Looking forward to 2011
I’m not even sure how this qualifies as a Best of 2010 bullet, but it segues nicely into next week’s list so leave me be. I don’t want to get my hopes up, as we all know how that can end, but 2011 is starting to look like a pretty excellent year for MMOs. Guild Wars 2 (hopefully), Rift, SWTOR (probably), DCUO, and so on and so forth. Each one of these games offers something unique for the community, and each one is looking remarkably polished at the shows we’ve attended and the betas we’ve played. Here’s hoping that 2011 shapes up to be the year that 2010 wasn’t.